Great Britain Geography

Great Britain consists of England, Wales and Scotland. While the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (United Kingdom, UK) – as the name suggests – still includes Northern Ireland.
The United Kingdom has a direct land border in Northern Ireland only with the Republic of Ireland, with a length of around 360 km. Great Britain has a coastline of around 12,430 km.

Area and land use

The United Kingdom covers an area of ​​229,850 km², which is divided into England (130,395 km²), Wales (20,761 km²), Scotland (78,772 km²) and Northern Ireland (13,843 km²). Thereof:

  • Forest
    Around 11% of the country is forested. 61.5% of it is coniferous forest, 28% deciduous forest, the rest is cripple and bush wood. A total of 67% of the UK’s forests are severely damaged, which is the highest percentage of forest damage anywhere in Europe.
  • Meadow and pasture land
    Around 51% of the total area of ​​Great Britain is used as meadow, pasture or arable land.
  • Fields and fields
    A good third of the arable land in the country is used for arable farming. Mainly grain, fruit, vegetables and rapeseed are grown.
  • Marsh
    wetlands there are few in the UK.
  • Mountains
    About 19% of the country is occupied by mountains.

England covers an area of ​​130,395 km², the island of Great Britain 229,850 km² and the United Kingdom of 244,820 km². Most of England is made up of flat plains. Between the rivers Tees (Middlesborough) and Exe (near Exeter) the land is divided into plains and mountains. The Cumbrian Mountains, Pennines, Peak District, Cotsworlds and Chilterns run north to south. The main and longest rivers are the Thames, Severn, Trent and Great Ouse. The largest cities in England are London, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Wales, with an area of ​​20,779 km², is very hilly with the exception of a flat plain in the south. The highest mountain “Snowdon” is 1,085 m high. The largest city is the port city of Cardiff on the south coast, which is also the capital of Wales. The island of Anglesey is north of the mainland.

Scotland in the north of the island of Great Britain covers an area of ​​78,772 km². The geography of Scotland is very varied. In general, it is divided into the flat lowlands in the south and the mountainous highlands in the north and west of the country. Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, is also the highest mountain in the United Kingdom at 1,344 m. The many long and deep estuaries that characterize the geography of Scotland are called the Firths and Lochs. The north and west coasts are dotted with numerous islands, including the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland Islands. The biggest cities are Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Ireland Northern Ireland as part of the Irish Island covers an area of ​​13,843 km². Northern Ireland encompasses the northeastern part of the island of Ireland and is very hilly. In the center of the area is the largest lake in the British Isles, Lough Neagh. The biggest cities in Northern Ireland are Belfast and Derry.

Tidal range

In Liverpool the mean tidal range is around 3 m. The highest tidal range, however, is found at the mouth of Great Britain’s longest river, the Severner – in extreme cases it can be up to 15 m.
For detailed explanations of ebb and flow, see Tides, Ebb and Flow.

The world’s highest tidal range can be found in the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where it is up to 16 m, with spring tide even over 20 m. The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which is called Nova Scotia in German and whose capital is Halifax. On the German North Sea coast it varies between 1 m and 3 m. In the western Baltic Sea, on the other hand, the tidal range is only 0.3 m, while it is barely noticeable in the eastern Baltic Sea.

Longitude and latitude

Great Britain – without Northern Ireland but with the Shetland Islands – extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from 50 ° 03` to 60 ° 47` north latitude
Δλ = from 005 ° 45` west to 001 ° 50 ‘east longitude

You can find detailed information on this subject under Longitude and Latitude.

Legal time

In Great Britain there is a one hour time difference to Central European Time (CET). The time difference also applies to summer time (CEST), since both countries then put their clocks forward 1 hour.

Δt (CET) = – 1 h

Further and detailed explanations of the time can be found under Time zones, time.

Highest point of the sun in London

London lies at a north latitude of around φ = 50 °.
If the sun is at the tropic, i.e. at δ = 23.5 °, summer starts in London on June 21st. Then, for the highest position of the sun at noon, according to Eq. 1 (see position of the sun):

51.5 ° = (90 ° – h) + 23.5 °


H = 62 °

This is the highest level above the horizon (exactly: above the chimney) that the sun occupies within the year in London.

United Kingdom Forests